Part I | Part II| Part III
This Kit is Cursed
You know those kits where nothing seems to go right? Not because it’s a bad kit, not because it’s fighting you in any specific way, just…because.
That’s where I’m at with this F-16. There’s nothing wrong with the plastic per se. Some of the kit’s engineering is questionable, but there’s nothing (so far) that’s insurmountable. Rather, the problems have been of a random variety…PE gone bad, paint misbehaving, the regulators on top of the seat-mounted O2 bottles snapping off.
I could box this kit and move on. I’ve thought about it. But I’ve put too much into this kit to back out now. So on we go.
The Cockpit: The Journey Continues
In Part I, I got the main elements of the cockpit painted up. This was chased with detail painting of the ejection seats, instrument panels and side consoles.
I don’t really have much to add here. Detail painting is detail painting. Vallejo and Tamiya get top billing for most of the brushwork, though Model Master Dunkelgrau got a bit of a workout on the drybrushing front. Gaia and Gunze clears were used, and Alclad Clear Flat was shot onto the wool seat padding to dead-flat it.
I also discovered that the Academy decal sheet (excellent…Cartograf quality, riddled with more stencils than you can shake a stick at) includes stencils for the ejection seats, so I added those for a little something extra.
I think I still have some more drybrushing to do, plus the HUD, but both of those tasks will wait until the beast is built and painted.
The Intake Really Sucks
As primarily a prop builder, I don’t really deal with intakes. The “intake” of a P-47 is basically just the big cowl opening that lets air hit the engine. And on liquid-cooled engines, it’s all about forcing air over radiators, so there’s just not much in the way of depth or color that has to be accounted for.
That’s very much not the case on jets, especially on a jet with a massive sucker like the F-16. There’s the need to make the thing seamless and worse yet, white.
My path to achieving that has been, well, rocky.
First, I painted the intake with Gunze C69 Offwhite. This was all well and good, but once the intake halves were joined, there were very evident seam lines along either side. Enter Squadron white putty. I hate the stuff, but my usual 3M Acryl Red isn’t exactly the best stuff to use when dealing with white.
Because access to the inside of the intake is limited, I just troweled the stuff on.
After giving it a night or so to cure, I came back with finer and finer grits of sandpaper and copious amounts of water, gradually getting to nice, smooth sides.
Now comes the fun part.
After putting it off for a week or so due to work craziness (and home craziness), I swung by Lowes and picked up a some white latex house paint. I forget the exact shade, but it was a very slightly offwhite paint. The reason I went Lowes is because you can purchase small sample sizes of paint instead of having to go whole hog on a quart or gallon.
The plan with the latex paint was simple. Tape off the back end and dump the paint in. I found I had to pour the paint into a smaller mixing cup (MESSY!), and pour from the mixing cup into the intake. This yielded a much greater degree of control.
Once the paint had a moment or two, I upended the intake and poured it back out. As much as I could – the stuff is thick!
The result? A nice, smooth white intake. Next time I’ll take some advice I received to extend the tape about 10mm or so beyond the intake, since taping right at the end caused the paint to pool there, creating a definite lip. It’s far enough back that it probably wouldn’t matter, but still.
At this point, everything was peachy.
Transferring the intake to the photo table, I fumbled it and dropped it on the garage floor. The impact didn’t break anything, but the shock opened up a crack in the paint down the length of one side.
The next night, I decided to apply a second coat to fill the crack. And that’s when things went wrong.
Instead of smooth, I got horrible and lumpy. This distressed me enough that I broke down and ordered an intake cover from Steel Beach. And, since I did that, that probably explains what happened next.
The paint leveled out. Not perfectly, but good enough, and the imperfections are mostly confined to the back of the intake, where they’ll be invisible.
Main Gear Bay
In Part I, I showed off the excellent fit of the Aires gear bay. Well, now it’s time to do it up right.
To get things going, I primed the bay with Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black, then went over it with Gunze C69 Offwhite.
After this came a lot of minute detail painting. Oh, the price of all that detail. Much of the paint is Vallejo, save for the metallics, which are Model Master Metalizers. A few decals were borrowed from the Academy sheet to add more visual interest.
Of course, a real F-16 gear bay is never this clean, save maybe when it rolls off the factory floor. The real thing is quite a bit dirtier, what with dirt and hydraulic fluid and grease and other things to create grime. So after a coat of Future to protect the paint, I went to work with Vallejo Game Color Black Wash and then AK Interactive Engine Grime to dirty the place up a bit.
Next time around it’ll be time to start putting all of this together, as main assembly commences. Stay tuned!